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Bible Commentaries

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament


- John

by John & Jacob Abbott


AMONG the disciples who were more immediately attendant upon the Savior, during the continuance of his ministry, there were three who appear to have occupied a very prominent position--Peter, James, and John. They were all Galileans. James and John were the sons of Zebedee and Salome. They are first mentioned Matthew 4:21, where is contained the account of their being called to leave their occupation upon the Sea of Galilee, and attend upon the ministry of Jesus. From that time, they are very prominent actors in the events which take place, until James is put to death by Herod, as recorded in Acts 12:1,Acts 12:2. From this period, John also disappears from the sacred history, excepting that, in the book of Revelation, (Revelation 1:9,) he alludes to himself as then residing, in exile, in the Isle of Patmos. This is a small island in the Egean Sea, nearly opposite to Miletus. A tradition has come down from ancient times, that he spent many years of his life in Ephesus, before his banishment, and that he afterwards returned to Ephesus, where he died, at a great age. It was this John who was the author of the following history.

The narrative of the incidents in our Savior's life, and the record of his sayings, which John has given, are strikingly different, in the genius and spirit which characterize the composition, from those of the other three Evangelists. His mind was of a very different turn from theirs, so that a class of events and conversations which they have passed by, seem to have been those which most interested him. And, in fact, the gentleness of his cast of character, and the refinement and cultivation of his mind,--the qualities, apparently, which endeared him to the Savior, as a personal companion,--have made him, as an author, the general favorite, among readers of the Bible, in every age.